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Buses replace Trains at Greenbelt Station this Weekend

GREEN LINE: Buses replace trains at Greenbelt Station from 7 a.m. Saturday until closing Sunday, this weekend.

Throughout the weekend, Green Line service will operate at regular weekend intervals between College Park and Branch Ave stations. On Saturday and Sunday, no trains will run between College Park & Greenbelt to allow for construction of a new test track to accept Metro’s new fleet of 7000-series railcars. Free shuttle buses will run between College Park and Greenbelt.

Station closed: Greenbelt

Council Mulls Comments on Greenbelt Station

At tomorrow’s meeting, the City Council will consider approving a resolution about City’s views on the 3rd phase Greenbelt Station development. The Council discussed the items at last Tuesday’s worksession.

Some of the items we’ve been considering are as follows:

1. Revise the site plan to relocate the pedestrian overpass to the area shown as Alignment 2 in the City of College Park Pedestrian Overpass Feasibility Study (copy attached). a. Remove townhomes on lots 34, 35, 40 and 41. b. Dedicate a 50-foot Public Use Easement to accommodate a 12-foot wide trail and 16-foot wide bridge per AASHTO Guidelines.

2. Show a detail for the proposed sound wall that uses an absorptive material or coating in order to mitigate reflective noise. a. The absorptive material or coating shall have a Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) of 0.70 or greater. b. The absorptive material or coating shall be used for the entirety of the west side of the wall facing the railroad tracks.

3. Revise the site plan to provide more detail for the retail site on lot 116 including the building footprint and access.

4. The City requests that the Developer conduct an analysis of current noise levels in north College Park neighborhoods located parallel to the Southcore /Greenbelt Station Development . Suggested analysis points are 9100 and 9200 blocks of 51st Avenue and the 5200 block of Huron Street. Analysis should include daytime and evening noise and levels when METRO and CSX trains are passing and ambient noise level.

The City further requests that the addition of new structures and installation of a sound barrier between the Southcore property and the railroad tracks be constructed in a manner that does not increase the current noise levels in north College Park.

To facilitate no additional increase in noise levels in north College Park, the material used for the sound barrier should

5. While the current number of proposed units meets the trip cap established for Southcore, we are concerned about changes to and increases in traffic circulation in College Park as a result of the project. The City asks for consideration in reducing the density of units in the development, in order to add more green space within the development and reduce overall trip count through the development, subsequently reducing traffic impacts on MD-193 and Rhode Island Avenue in College Park.

Once the proposed Greenbelt Parkway is built connecting the north and south core developments, and the proposed FBI development takes place in north core, the trip count through the development from MD-193 to the beltway is expected to rise significantly.

We plan to make the final draft before the meeting tomorrow night.

Greenbelt Makes Shortlist of Future FBI Sites

Greenbelt Metro parking lot  (Washington Post)

Greenbelt Metro parking lot
(Washington Post)

A joint panel of the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has concluded site evaluations for the new FBI Headquarters and has identified three sites as potential locations.

The potential sites for a new consolidated headquarters for the FBI are:

•Greenbelt – A portion of the site known as the Greenbelt Metro Station located near the intersection of Interstates 95/495 and Exit 24 (Greenbelt Station) in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
•Landover – The site known as the former Landover Mall located near the intersection of Interstates 95/495 and MD 202 in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
•Springfield – The site known as the GSA Franconia Warehouse Complex located near the intersection of Interstate 95 and Franconia Road in Fairfax County, Virginia.

In the next step, GSA will conduct National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews on each the three sites, which includes opportunities for public comment. During the NEPA review, GSA will initiate the first of a two-phase Request For Proposal (RFP) seeking qualified developers. The second phase includes the solicitation of development proposals from qualified developers identified in the first phase

(Source GSA)

With New Requirements, FBI Relocation to Greenbelt Looks Promising

The FBI Headquarters in D.C.

The FBI Headquarters in D.C. (Source: AP)

Yesterday, the General Services Administration (GSA) sets a set of requirements to select the new location of FBI’s headquarters, the Washington Post has reported. This happened after the GSA solicited ideas from several local governments in the area about the new location. News reports suggest that the GSA received some 38 proposals from Prince George’s, Fairfax and Louden counties.

SGA’s new requirements include:
1. Property that can accommodate 2.1 million square feet of office and related space, including parking as related by local rules. The GSA “anticipates that approximately 50 acres would be needed to satisfy this project requirement” it said in a statement.

• Level V security protection, the same level given to the Pentagon and CIA headquarters.

• Access to Metro and the Beltway. Specifically, “the closest boundary line of the site offered shall be within 2 miles by paved public access road of a Metrorail station, and either inside the Capital Beltway or within 2.5 miles by paved public access road of a Capital Beltway interchange.”

• Adequate access to public utilities.

The new requirements eliminate the possibility of FBI’s relocation to some counties in northern Virginia, and thus making the option of having FBI’s new home in Greenbelt more promising.

Council to Discuss Greenbelt Development Agreement and FBI Relocation

The Council will hear an update on the North Core development tonight and consider a revision to the North Core development agreement. The State of Maryland recently agreed to support one location for the FBI at the Greenbelt Metro station, while at least two different Virginia locations are also vying for the development (see here).

We will hear about any new information about what the prospects are for the FBI relocating to Greenbelt Station. The City has an existing agreement in place from October 2005, which included both the North Core and the South Core and required the developer to give $2.5 million to the City for various improvements around the City, to be adjusted for inflation. Half of this amount was to become available at the first major outsale of the North Core, and half of this was to become available at the first major outsale of the South Core.

The funds are meant to go toward improvements at Duvall Field and in the Hollywood Commercial District. The developer was also required to build the Beltway interchange to Greenbelt Metro Station. In exchange, the City agreed to support any proposed development that met the requirements of plans supported by the City prior to that date, while retaining the right to comment on issues such as the height of the buildings, mix of uses, and floodplain mitigation.

Last year, the City Council entered into a new agreement with CRM Mid-Atlantic, the new developer of the South Core, which replaced the old one and required to provide $1.25 million to the City at the time of out-sale of the apartment component of the South Core. Renard Development, which now owns the North Core and is the successor to Metroland developers, has proposed a new agreement with the City.

This proposed new agreement also would require Renard to give the City $1.25 million (adjusted for inflation from the date of the agreement onward) for various improvements to public facilities at the time of first major out-sale, and not to occur later than seven years after the date of the agreement. In exchange, the City would agree to general support any plans incorporating a portion of the North Core by the FBI as long as the plans are in substantial conformance with the plans submitted to the General Services Administration in response to the Request for Information related to relocation of the FBI building. The City would retain the right to address any issue not previously addressed in the RFI response or in the Conceptual Site Plan.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Greenbelt Sector Plan Moves Forward

The County’s District Council met in a worksession this week and agreed to approve Greenbelt Sector plan.

We’ve been told that the District Council went into a “Committee of the Whole” and voted unanimously to approve the Sector Plan.

We know there were amendments made, but we don’t know yet what amendments.

As far as the issues that are important to North College Park, the box with the language about specifics about the height of the building was taken out but language about flexibility on the heights was included.

The District Council still have to put the changes in the form of a motion and pass it formally at the next District Council meeting, so at that point we’ll know exactly what all the amendments were.

At our last worksession meeting, we passed the letter to support relocation of the FBI to Greenbelt. We added language that we look forward to working with the FBI and the developer to ensure that the development meets those concerns. We also found out that the Four Cities letter has not yet been drafted.

I will keep you posted as I find more information. In the mean time please attend next Thursday’s NCPCA meeting at Davis Hall, where we will discuss further the FBI development at Greenbelt. The developer’s attorney Mr. Garth Beall will be present at the meeting.

Details Emerge on FBI Development at Greenbelt Metro

Garth Beall, the attorney for the proposed FBI development at the Greenbelt Metro came to four cities’ meeting last night and presented his concept plan to Council members of four neighboring cities – College Park, Greenbelt, New Carrollton and Berwyn Heights.

Mr. Beall came to the College Park City Council a few months back when he announced the initial plan but at that time no conceptual plan was in presented. The plan that he presented was the most detail we’ve seen.

Here is a brief summary of the plan.

  • Any buildings that are more than 12 stories, although he wasn’t willing to agree to a provision in the Sector Plan limiting them to 20 buildings, because he said the GSA might have different requirements.
  • The Greenbelt Station Parkway in their plan doesn’t follow the Western alignment but also doesn’t really follow the Eastern alignment – more of a “central” alignment, in that there would be an initial group of mixed-use (retail and office with residential) between the Metro and the Parkway, and the FBI would be on the other side of the Parkway.
  • The Beltway interchange alignment would follow the SHA-preferred alignment. The mixed-use buildings would be 4-8 stories and would be 250 feet from the tracks.

I’ve asked to send an electronic version of the plan. Once I have it, I will share that with you. The plan is in very early stage, so things might change in the next few weeks. The GSA is looking for a submission by early March.

Update: Mr. Beall has shared the initial plan with our Council however he has asked not to disseminate it publicly since it is a fairly early version of the conceptual plan. He is expected to be present at this month’s North College Park Civic Association meeting on February 14 and talk more about the plan.

Greenbelt Plan Moves for County Council

Greenbelt north and south core development areas

The ongoing Greenbelt Metro Area and MD 193 Corridor Sector Plan and Sectional Map Amendment has been “formally” sent to Prince George’s County District Council. M-NCPPC Chief Planner Chad Wiliams emailed us with this information.

On December 13, 2012, the Planning Board voted 5-0 to adopt the sector plan and endorse the sectional (zoning) map amendment with some changes that rose from comments received during and following the Joint Public Hearing. You can view the resolution of adoption on our project website:

The next step is a staff worksession with the County Council sitting as the District Council. This worksession is scheduled for Tuesday, February 5, 2013. The worksession is open to the public and will be broadcast live online, but usually the public does not have an opportunity to comment during the worksession.

College Park City Council will adopt a letter to the District Council with its comments in next Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Council to Review Planning Board’s Comments on Greenbelt Sector Plan

At tonight’s worksession, the City Council will discuss the comments approved by the Prince George’s County Planning Board (M-NCPPC) on Greenbelt Sector Plan.

The M-NCPPC approved a resolution adopting the Greenbelt Metro Area and MD 193 Corridor Sector Plan and endorsing the Sectional Map Amendment (the Plan) for transmittal to the District Council for final approval. The resolution contains over 100 substantive changes to the Plan and a list of technical changes. The District Council will hold a worksession within the next two months prior to taking action on the plan. The District Council may approve, amend or disapprove the plan. If the plan is amended to include material not addressed in the record, an additional joint public hearing with the Planning Board must be held.

Unfortunately, while the planning board addressed some concerns expressed by north College Park residents, a number of key concerns remained unresolved.

The maximum building height in the North Core shall be limited to 12 stories without exception. The Planning Board did not change the Plan.  The City opposes allowing 20-story buildings to be constructed in the North Core under any circumstances because of the negative impact on the North College Park community. Whether the market will support additional height is not a relevant consideration. Limiting a major employer’s lot coverage to 25% will only serve to drive the height of buildings up unnecessarily.

Also, it is not clear whether parking garages need to comply with the building height standards and how close they may be located to the train tracks. The Planning Board did not revise the Plan although staff recommended that adding a new standard would be appropriate.

Additionally, the Planning Board did not change the Plan retaining the approved design for the 1-95/1-495 Greenbelt Metro Access Improvement Project. From their comments, it is not clear why the Plan is deviating from the existing planned location and design of the beltway ramps. This project has been approved by the State Highway Administration (SHA) and the Federal Highway Administration and can enter the Final Design phase if funding is identified. It is not known if SHA supports this recommendation.

M-NCPPC staff also commented that they do not support or advocate the realignment of Narragansett Run except in noting that some temporary changes to the waterway may be necessary during the construction of the Greenbelt Station Parkway bridge. The Planning Board made the following changes to the Plan.

At tonight’s Council meeting, we’ll review the Planning Board’s response to the City’s testimony and send a letter to the District Council requesting action on the items where the Planning Board did not support the City’s recommendations.

County, MD Officials React to FBI Relocation News

FBI - J. Edgar Hoover Building in D.C. (credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, the General Services Administration (GSA) issued a RFI (Request for Information) to relocate FBI headquarters from its current location in J. Edgar Hoover Building (JEH) building to a possible location “within the National Capital Region (defined as the District of Columbia, Montgomery and Prince Georges counties in Maryland; Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties in Virginia, as well the independent municipalities within each of these counties)”.

You can read the entire RFI here on GSA’s website.

The news made several County and MD officials thrilled and excited. They all think Maryland, in particular Prince George’s is an ideal place for FBI to relocate.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker made this statement on the news:

“With more land available for development at its 15 Metro stations than any other jurisdiction in the Metropolitan area, Prince George’s County has identified several locations that would be ideal for the new FBI home. Each of the locations provides outstanding access to Metro, major highways, room for growth, and a highly educated workforce. I am confident that both the GSA and FBI will recognize that our unique and superior attributes match their requirements as well as their wants and needs.”

MD Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5), U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both D-MD), and Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (MD-4) also reacted positively. Here is what they said:

With a significant portion of the federal workforce living in Maryland and ample land available near Metro stations, it’s clear Prince George’s County is the right choice for the new headquarters. The project would bring thousands of jobs to the County, boost our local economy, and generate additional revenues for our community. As the process continues to move forward, we will be working closely together to advocate for bringing this project, and the new economic opportunities that will accompany it, to Prince George’s County.”

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